18th September 2018, 15:43 | grand final
In 2001, Bradford Bulls would right the wrongs of the 1999 Super League Grand Final and that season's Challenge Cup Final and dismiss their ‘chokers’ tag conclusively with a 37-6 win over Wigan Warriors.
The Bulls were jointly motivated by a need to make amends for 1999, where they topped the regular season table only to be felled in the Grand Final by St Helens and their final play loss in the ‘Wide to West’ game in 2000 and the Cup final in April.
These losses would create the narrative that the Bradford players could not finish the job and did not turn up for big games – something coach Brian Noble was keen to dismiss.
Here they faced Wigan, dominant power of the previous decade who had lost the 2000 Grand Final to rivals St Helens and were looking to avenge both that defeat, and defeat in the Qualifying Semi Final to Bradford two weeks prior.
Finally, there was the Henry Paul factor, with the Kiwi international retiring from the game to start a new career with Gloucester after the end of the season – Bradford were determined to see him off as a Champion.
It seemed the Bulls had won the battle of motivation and looked dynamic and powerful, racing to a 14-point lead in the first 12 minutes. James Lowes & Michael Withers crossed over for Bradford and Wigan had no match for the intensity and speed the Bulls offered.
Bradford pushed home their advantage with two more tries from Withers, completing a first half hat-trick and racing to a 26-0 lead – there would be no repeat of the accusation that the Bulls were infamous ‘chokers’.
By half-time, Wigan fans had been completely silenced and the game was over as a contest. The dominating style of the Bulls would see them win their second Grand Final and fourth Championship.
Wigan did manage a consolation try, from Adrian Lam, however Wigan’s wait for a Grand Final victory would go on until 2010 – Bradford confirmed their place as the team of the early 2000s and would win 3 of the next 5 Grand Finals and would appear in the next four.
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